Australian State Legally Obliges Priests to Report Sex Abuse

South Australia is set to legally compel clergy to report child sexual abuse that is revealed in confession, effectively abolishing church protections. Under the new laws, set to take effect in October, priests who hear confessions about child abuse will have a mandatory legal obligation to report them to police. The acting archbishop of Adelaide, Greg O’Kelly, said the church was “unaware of this change” until today “and the implications are now being considered.” The state’s attorney general, Vickie Chapman, said: “It’s critical that the terrible legacy of child sexual abuse is addressed with a comprehensive suite of policies at both the federal and state level.” She urged other states to follow South Australia’s lead to tackle child abuse. In May, Cardinal George Pell, the Vatican’s No. 3 official, was ordered to stand trial in Australia over decades-old accusations of sexual abuse.